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November 5, 2007
Staring out of the window as the subway crossed from Brooklyn into Manhattan, the rain fell in sheets, obstructing what was usually a beautiful view of the city. As the train descended and the buildings drew nearer, I could only silently wish that I was back in the warmth of my apartment. My uncertainty about the evening's show, a performance by UK experimenters Tunng preceded by one from Pennsylvania's Lewis & Clarke, only added to the despondency I usually felt in such foul weather. I had been listening to Good Arrows, Tunng's most recent record, on a loop that had become just about constant, but had no idea if the band would be up to holding my interest for the duration of a live set. Shaking out the umbrella that occasionally comes in handy as an emergency parachute-type device capable of safely bringing my heels to rest on solid ground from heights up to eight feet, I shrugged and ducked into the soft and soothing light of the Mercury Lounge.

The venue, long established in the city, is small even by New York standards and was not nearly as crowded as I had expected it to be, what with Good Arrows earning an 8 from LAS (maybe it was the 5.9 it earned elsewhere). Having fanned out as per the unwritten rules of social encounters amongst potentially awkward indie rockers, the audience was interspersed throughout the room and, at least in the case of the dudes who wouldn't shut the fuck up behind me and the couple barely keeping it in their pants next to me, seemed a bit preoccupied. Which was unfortunate for them, because they missed a very creative performance from a very captivating band.


Utilizing an unorthodox stage configuration, Tunng employs three guitarists when performing live, flanked by a laptop jockey, a percussive wizard, and one lovely lady providing lovely background vocals. While such a setup is often overkill amongst ambitious but unskilled basement-dwelling bedheads, Tunng's numbers must be considered necessary, as they were able to replicate their recorded sound almost flawlessly on stage in New York. One of the outfit's main draws is that even with a sound heavily indebted to samples and drum loops, the songs still manage to transcend the sterility of technology and convey an emotional depth.

As an added bonus it, the guy sitting behind what I incorrectly thought was a drum kit delivered a performance that was absolutely fascinating to watch. His perch turned out to be behind a stand housing a myriad of instruments, and over the course of the set he employed every manner of noise-making apparatus, from chimes to clarinet to some kind of percussive thing that I couldn't identify from my vantage point next to the face suckers. The percussionist-slash-audiobot was only upstaged when the aforementioned lovely lady produced a fake canary in a real bird cage to replicate some chirping. Incorporating fake animals into your repertoire is truly the embodiment of the Kitchen Sink approach.

Having been so unsure as to what, exactly, seeing Tunng in a live setting would be like, I was overly pleased with the band's performance. It was unusual and quite pleasant to be treated to such an entertaining and unconventional show. I would consider it safe to say that the band did their part to cheer up a truly miserable night in the city.

SEE ALSO: www.tunng.co.uk
SEE ALSO: www.thrilljockey.com
SEE ALSO: www.mercuryloungenyc.com

--
Kevin Alfoldy
An aspiring global adventurer who cut his teeth on the sandy beaches and dirty bitches of Southern California, Kevin Alfoldy now spends his non-vacation days in Brooklyn, New York, where he occasionally finds the time to rub the crust out of his eyes long enough to contribute reviews and feature articles for LAS. A longtime staff member, Kevin also captains the tattered, often half-sunk raft of EPmd, our irregular column of EP reviews.

See other articles by Kevin Alfoldy.

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